Women at work
The prime minister’s announcement of a ten per cent quota for women in all government departments is intended as a step to empower them. The intention as such is good. But piecemeal measures will, in the final analysis, have very little impact on improving the plight of women. As things stand now, a very large number are denied opportunity or the chance to escape the discrimination they face on a day-to-day basis. Tradition is one factor in this, with practices carried out in the name of convention leading to the oppression of women and the denial to them of basic rights. Continued ‘honour’ killings are one manifestation of this bleak reality.
While jobs for women can indeed serve a useful purpose, there are other areas too that need to be addressed. One is that of education. Though enrollment at schools has gradually increased for women in almost all parts of the country, even today fewer girls as compared to boys attend school. The literacy rate for women stands at around 25 per cent compared to over 58 per cent for men. In some parts of the country, notably the tribal areas, less than one per cent of women have attended school. Of the aim of empowerment for women that the PM talks about is truly to be attained, it is vital that learning be ensured for every child in the country regardless of gender. The fact that so many women today remain illiterate means they are denied access to information, to standing as income earners within households and to reproductive rights. The political rights of women — with a far smaller number registered as voters compared to men — is also tied in to their education and empowerment. As a government that speaks so often in the name of the late Benazir Bhutto, this is something the PPP must set about changing. Pakistani women have shown when they are offered the opportunity that they are capable of excelling in a very wide number of fields. Yet only a very small number of women have the privilege to reach their full potential. As a nation we could gain a great deal by working to alter this and ensuring that all citizens are equal. This is after all what the constitution lays down. Today we need all our people to contribute to the nation and this can happen only if each of them is educated, enlightened and empowered.
Source: The News